I have kept several clocks in my living room that might strike non-military people as a bit odd. One would be set to “my time,” another set six hours ahead, another might be eight hours ahead, or four hours behind. You see, if my daughter is in Germany, or South Korea, I can’t just pick up the phone and call her any time I think of it. First, I need to check and see what time it is in her part of the world, so I am not disturbing her in the middle of her night! My other clock would be set to wherever my soldier was currently stationed. My clocks have been a visible lesson for me that “my time” is not always my children’s time, nor is it the same as “God’s time!”
We are taught to pray expectantly, which I think for many of us is a fairly easy practice. We pray and wait for an answer. But, how well do we wait? And for how long? We are a fast-paced society. We cook our food in a microwave and sometimes get impatient at waiting another few seconds for it to cook! Our music is fast, our cars are fast, and our lives seem to be a series of hurrying from one activity to another. As we have grown into a rushed society, our prayer lives have also had a tendency to become something we try to “squeeze in.” And, just as we do in front of our microwaves, we pace back and forth impatiently waiting for God to answer our petitions.
We can learn a lesson in waiting of God from some of our Biblical ancestors. Abraham was seventy-five when God promised him a son. Abraham waited twenty-five years.
In the first book of Samuel we learn that Hannah went to the house of the Lord to pray for a child. She did this year after year. She never gave up and continued to pray for a child. We are told that she was teased by her rival who tried to make Hannah’s life even more miserable, yet Hannah persisted in her pleas to the Lord until she finally conceived and Samuel was born.
In the New Testament, God told Paul at the time of his conversion that he would speak before kings. Did Paul run right over to Rome? No, first, he went out into the desert for three years and allowed God to work on him. Then he waited another 12 years before he ever spoke to his first king.
Samuel anointed David as the next king over Israel. Yet, another forty years had passed before David received a crown, as ruler of Jerusalem; and even then, another seven years went by before he became king over the entire nation.
I admit that I am a “30-second Christian” sometimes. I pray for thirty seconds, and then wait for thirty seconds before I begin to whine or – worse yet – begin to take care of things myself! Even Father Abraham messed up. He waited twelve years for his promised son, and then took matters into his own hands, took Hagar as a concubine and had a son with her. I think God must have said something like, “Not so fast, old friend. Wrong son. I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait a while longer.” And then, another dozen years went by before the birth of Isaac.
We can’t manipulate God. We can’t make Him move before He’s ready. We cannot use our incredible powers of persuasion on an All Knowing, All Powerful God. We cannot change His timeline for our lives, and, if we knew what God knows, we would not want to!
Our time is not God’s time, we all know that. But living it is another matter. It is a matter of faith, of trust. We must trust that God loves us, and that He does what is right at the right time, every time. We may not always like God’s timing, but we need to learn to accept it with patience, and even gratitude.
“But as for me, I trust in You, O, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:14-15 KJV)